The word sustainability has been on the lips of many tourism and hospitality experts for some time now. The trend has influenced not only this sector but almost every industry as well. While the word itself may seem familiar, many people struggle to understand what it really means.
As we find in the WTTC report:
The basic principle of sustainability is balance.
This sounds fairly generic, but sustainability can bring about different kinds of balance. However, simply speaking, it’s about running a business in such a way that it preserves resources for future generations, takes care of social development, and creates opportunities to shape a better environment for businesses, and people, and preserve nature in general.
It’s rooted in long-term thinking and planning. As business owners, we must ensure that our efforts have a positive impact on the world by looking toward the future.
What does it mean for travel brands?
Often, the tourism sector is criticized for its negative impact on the environment and communities. However, the COVID crisis made the industry lean towards more sustainable thinking. It is visible in conferences and official documents revised by top tourism organizations like the European Travel Council or the World Tourism Organization.
This is a heartwarming trend that allows the tourism industry to have a positive impact on the world.
Travel accounts for more than 10% of global GDP and is growing (source: WTTC.org). Additionally, it contributes to 8% of global carbon emissions (source: sustainabletravel.org) and will likely only grow in the future.
Therefore, several big players are seeing a need to change the sector and develop strategies to reduce these negative impacts.
Why sustainability is important for small travel brands
What about small travel brands? Do they have anything to say? Sustainability may come with extra costs that your businesses cannot afford. However, is this true?
By being sustainable, you can save on your budget and attract new types of travelers. As a result, you and your family can live a more balanced, joyous life. Even though it does not seem like a money-saving source, it can give you some tangible benefits over time.
Sustainability brings you savings
You can save some extra money with sustainability in your small travel business. After all, who doesn’t want a few extra euros in their pocket? Use more sustainable energy such as solar panels, reduce your waste through composting and recycling, grow your food, or build a local chain of suppliers.
Sustainability brings you a more balanced living
You probably wanted to create something special when you decided to run your own travel business. Something that will not only delight your guests but also bring you and your family real satisfaction. Yet many business owners, especially those in popular tourist destinations, suffer from the changes that mass tourism has brought.
Sustainability means creating a work environment that is beneficial to all. It allows you to live more in harmony with your values and needs while providing the best service to your guests.
Sustainability brings you more business opportunities
Owners of small travel brands may find it difficult to run a sustainable business on their own. However, the growing trends also present a number of new business opportunities. Not only the public sector can help, but also private organizations that seek to gather like-minded business owners and create a community centered around the same values.
This gives smaller companies a better chance to compete with big brands. Being part of something bigger also brings extra motivation.
Sustainability brings you creativity and further development
Sustainability leaves you with an open door to find new, exciting ways to grow your business. According to research, new types of travelers are looking for brands that are more conscious of their environmental impact, ensure better work conditions for their employees, and think about the well-being of future generations.
This means better chances to compete with larger brands with more rigid structures and longer decision-making processes.
What does it mean to run a sustainable travel brand?
To run a sustainable travel brand, the first step is self-reflection and understanding what can be improved. The right brand strategy can help to address these issues and find consistent ways to improve them. The next step is to create an offer that serves not only your guests but also the local community and the natural environment.
What are examples of sustainable action?
- Creating a network of local suppliers to reduce imported goods,
- Using environmentally friendly energy sources,
- Allowing your guests to participate in programs that contribute to the environment and the local community,
- Holding workshops and courses to spread awareness of local culture,
- Reducing food and water waste in your hotel or restaurant,
- Using eco-friendly, recycled, biodegradable materials,
- Partnering with non-profit organizations and social enterprises,
- Respecting local culture and society.
- Sustainable travel brand – summary
Increasing awareness of the human impact on climate change opened an important discussion about the role of tourism in climate degradation. The industry saw an urgent need to update its strategies and take action after the COVID-19 outbreak.
The need for more sustainable travel brands creates new, exciting opportunities for small businesses. It can allow them to compete with larger players and make important changes in their lives to make them happier and more secure.